|Publication number||US6304355 B1|
|Application number||US 09/107,668|
|Publication date||Oct 16, 2001|
|Filing date||Jun 30, 1998|
|Priority date||Dec 29, 1995|
|Also published as||US5847853|
|Publication number||09107668, 107668, US 6304355 B1, US 6304355B1, US-B1-6304355, US6304355 B1, US6304355B1|
|Inventors||Warren M. Farnworth|
|Original Assignee||Warren M. Farnworth|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (27), Non-Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (7), Classifications (7), Legal Events (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation of Ser. No. 08/580,630 filed Dec. 29, 1995.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a system and method for modulating a combined light information signal and light carrier wave signal for transmission through an optical transmission link and demodulating the combined signal after reception to extract the transmitted information. More particularly, the invention relates to such a system and method of extremely simple and robust construction and which allow use of commercially available lasers and low frequency switching electronics for conversion of electronic domain information input signals to light signals and for retrieval of information from the light signals with reconversion to the electronic domain.
2. State of the Art
Optical communication systems allow information to be transmitted in the form of light. Fibre optic cables may be used to transmit the information from a transmitter to a receiver. Fibre optic cables can transmit light at extremely high speed and with relatively small power loss.
Referring to FIG. 1, a typical fibre optical cable consists of an optical core 14 surrounded by an optical cladding 16. The light is transmitted through core 14. As used herein, “light” refers to electromagnetic radiation that may be effectively transmitted through fibre optic cable and associated components, or other optic transmission systems known or contemplated in the art.
All materials that allow the transmission of electromagnetic radiation including light have an associated refractive index n, which is the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light in the material. The speed of light in a vacuum is normalized to 1. The speed of light in a vacuum is constant regardless of the wavelength of the light. By contrast, the speed of light in a material is a function of wavelength and the structure of the material. Accordingly, the refractive index is a function of the wavelength of the light and the structure of the material.
Refraction refers to bending of light due to variations in the refractive index. As a ray of light passes from one material (or a vacuum) to another material, it is possible for the ray to refract, reflect, or partially refract and partially reflect. (The ray may also be partially absorbed.) Refracted rays are sometimes called transmitted rays, which term will be used herein to avoid confusion of subscripts.
The following three laws govern the relationship between incident, reflected, and transmitted (refracted) rays. First, the incident, reflected, and transmitted rays all reside in a plane, known as the plane of incidence, which is normal to the interface of the materials. Second, the angle of incidence θI equals the angle of reflection θR, where each angle is measured with respect to a line normal to the interface. Third, the angle of incidence θI and the angle of transmittance θT are related by Snell's law shown in equation (1), below:
where nI is the refractive index of the material through which the incident ray travels, nT is the refractive index of the material through which the transmitted ray travels, θI is the angle of the incident ray with respect to the normal, and θT is the angle of the transmitted ray with respect to the normal.
An example of refraction is shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, a ray travels from Material A, having refractive index nI, to Material B, having a refractive index nT. The ratio of the angle of incidence θI to the angle of transmittance θT is governed by Snell's law, shown in equation (1). Generally, where nT>nI (as in FIG. 2A), θT<θI. Where nT<nI (as in FIG. 2B), θT>θI. (Of course, a larger θI also results in a larger θT.) At θT=90°, θI is defined to be at critical angle, denoted θC. The critical angle θC is defined in equation (2) below:
For θI>θC, all of the incident ray is totally internally reflected, remaining in the incident medium. An ideal fibre optic cable has total internal reflection, which leads to a relatively small amount of loss in the transmission of light through the cable.
Referring to FIG. 3, one end of fibre optic cable 10 interfaces with air, which has a refractive index n1 (which happens to be about 1.00027). Core 14 has a refractive index n2, where n2>n1. Cladding 16 has a refractive index n3. Dashed lines show the normal with respect to the air-core interface and the core-cladding interface. An incident ray hits the air-core interface at angle θI1. The transmitted (refracted) ray is referred to as ray TI to designate the ray as both a transmitted ray with respect to the air-core interface and an incident ray with respect to the core-cladding interface. The angle of transmittance θT may be derived according to Snell's law, shown in equation (1).
An angle of incidence θI2 inside core 14 equals 90° minus θT. If θI>θC, there will be total internal reflection and ray TI will continue to transmit through core 14 at angle θI2 until another interface is reached. Further, there is no loss of radiated power at the reflection (although there is loss as the light passes through core 14).
If θI is too large, θI2 cannot be greater than θC, and there will not be total internal reflection. The maximum incident angle θMAX is derived in equation (3), below:
where n1, n2, and n3 are the refractive indices defined above in connection with FIG. 3. Accordingly, if θI>θMAX, there will not be total internal reflection.
Interference refers to the consequence which arises when two light waves starting from the same point source or from two identical point sources arrive at some point P after having travelled two trajectories with different lengths. Generally, the two light waves have the same frequency, but different phases at the time they reach point P. However, the inventor has discovered that it is possible to employ the interference phenomenon with laser light waves of different frequencies and from different sources, as the description of the present invention will hereinafter show.
Modulation is used to impress information from one signal into another signal to create a modulated signal. There are various types of modulation, including amplitude modulation and frequency modulation.
Amplitude modulation is a method of transmitting an information signal by superimposing it on a carrier signal which has a much higher frequency. Consider the following simple example. A carrier signal cos ωCt is varied in amplitude by a modulating information signal cos ωMt, where ωM is much less than ωC. The resulting modulated signal IMod is shown in equation (4), below:
where M is the modulating index, which is less than or equal to 1, ωM=2πfM=2π/λM, and ωC=2πfC=2π/λC. IMod may be rewritten as in equation (5), below:
Equation (5) illustrates that the modulated carrier has power at frequencies ωC, ωC+ωM, and ωC−ωM. In amplitude modulation, the frequency of the information signal remains constant while the amplitude varies to convey information. In frequency modulation, the frequency of the modulated signal varies depending on the frequency of the information signal.
Where the information (modulating) signal is a complex waveform f(t), the amplitude modulated waveform may be (K+f(t))*cos ωCt, where K is a constant that is large enough such that (K+f(t)) is never negative.
In many circumstances, the modulated signal IMod can be transmitted more easily and efficiently than can the information signal cos ωMt. At the conclusion of the transmission, a receiver strips the carrier wave, leaving only the information wave.
Systems are known in the art to modulate and demodulate light signals for information transmission purposes. However, such state-of-the-art systems are complex, expensive and require relatively sophisticated electronic processing to provide a modulated light output signal and to retrieve an electronic signal at the receiving end of the transmission.
The invention relates to a light communication system for transmitting modulated information. The system may include a source of a first laser light signal containing information and a source of a second laser light signal suitable for use in modulation with the first laser light signal. The first and second laser light signals may be mixed in a local mixer so as to create a multi-component local mixed laser light signal. A receiver element, such as an optical fibre pickup, may be sized and positioned to receive only one of the light signal components emanating from the mixer, such as the frequency summation component. The mixer may include a screen or mask with laterally-spaced or offset pinholes or slits through which the first and second light signals are respectively passed and a cavity in which the passed first and second light signals are mixed through overlapping, similar to the creation of an interference pattern.
The signal component received by the receiver element may be further transmitted through a light transmission link, such as a fibre optic cable, to a remote location. The transmission link may include one or more amplifiers as known in the art, particularly if the signal component is to be transmitted over substantial distances.
The invention may further include a demodulating system for the transmitted signal component that includes a source of a third laser light signal and a remote light mixer at the receiving end of the light transmission link. The third laser light signal and the signal component transmitted through the light transmission link are mixed in a remote light mixer including a screen or mask with pinholes through which the third laser light signal and transmitted signal component pass into a mixing cavity, as previously described, to create a remote mixed signal with a plurality of components.
The demodulating system may also include a light sensitive detector plate that detects the remote mixed signal components and converts them to the electronic domain. A remote detector responsive to a component of the remote mixed signal from the detector plate then produces an electronic output signal corresponding to the information content of the first laser light signal.
The invention is not limited to transmitting and detecting the frequency summation component of the mixed first and second signals. If a different component is transmitted and detected (such as the frequency difference component), a similar procedure may be performed by the remote detector to recover the information of the first laser light signal.
The local receiver, while preferably a pickup fibre, may include another frequency-selective electromagnetic receptor as known in the art.
The present invention may be characterized by its simplicity and robust construction, as well as its ability to employ relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf, low-frequency electronic switching components and commercially available lasers.
While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming that which is regarded as the present invention, the advantages of this invention can be more readily ascertained from the following description of the invention when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a section of fibre optic cable;
FIG. 2A illustrates refraction in the case in which the refractive index of the base medium is less than that of the adjacent medium;
FIG. 2B illustrates refraction in the case in which the refractive index of the base medium is greater than that of the adjacent medium;
FIG. 3 illustrates total internal reflection in a fibre optic cable;
FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a light modulator system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of a light demodulator system according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
Referring to FIG. 4, a communication system 20 according to the invention includes a laser light modulator system 22, which provides a modulated laser light signal to a fibre optic transmission cable 10. Communication system 20 also includes a laser light demodulator system 24 shown in FIG. 5. Cable 10 is part of a fibre optic transmission link between light modulator system 22 and light demodulator system 24. Cable 10 includes a local end 10A (shown in FIG. 4) and a remote end 10B (shown in FIG. 5), as well as an intermediate portion linking end 10A and 10B (not shown).
Returning to FIG. 4, laser 26 provides a light signal EC having a frequency fC to an optic fibre 28, the frequency subscript C referring to “carrier.” Laser 26 may be a commercially-available diode laser, and frequency fC is tunable within a range of frequencies. The laser carrier signal may be called a light signal, an optic signal, or merely light. Laser 26 may be termed the carrier wave laser. The signals produced by lasers are coherent. Coherence has various aspects, but includes having virtually all energy of the output signal at a single frequency or within an extremely narrow band of frequencies. Coherence permits maintenance of the information and carrier wave light or grids employed in the invention within tight frequency bounds for modulation and demodulation.
An information signal source 34 provides a laser light signal EI having a frequency fI to an optic fibre 38, where the frequency subscript I refers to “information.” Information signal source 34 comprises a means for converting a relatively low frequency electronic domain signal received from control system 40 to a light signal transmissible through optic fibre 38, as known in the art. For example, an electrooptic or magnetooptic modulator may serve as the electronic-to-light signal conversion means. Accordingly, signal EI is also referred to as a light signal. Thus, in accordance with the invention, EI is representative of signals and frequencies which will not transmit through an optic fibre but which, when modulating light signal EC, can, in fact, be so transmitted.
Merely by way of example and not limitation, the signals EC and EI are defined in equations (6) and (7), below:
where ωC=2π*fC, and A is the amplitude. For convenience A equals 1 and will be ignored.
where ωI=2π*fI, and M is a modulation index that is less than or equal to 1.
The maximum magnitude of M may be considerably greater than the magnitude of A. In the case of amplitude modulation, the value of M varies to convey information. In the case of frequency modulation, M=1 and the frequency fI varies to convey information. In either case, the frequency fI is substantially lower than frequency fC. In this context, “substantially” means within a range between a maximum and minimum spread of frequencies fC and fI, The maximum spread in frequency modulation (audio) transmission is presently about 4400 to 1. The minimum spread is determined by the sensitivity of the receiver. The maximum spread is limited by the transmission spectrum of the optical fibre. Additionally, different frequencies travel at different velocities in the fibre, with the result that too great a spread between fC and fI will cause shifting of the information, commonly known as “smearing.” With a standard ≈200 THz signal, an amplitude modulation at an minimum of 26.5 to 1 cycles of carrier to information signal provides a baud rate of over 7 THz. While such a baud rate is obviously unnecessary for most applications, it would be possible to realize such a rate using microwave carrier to signal ratios. (For example, the ratio of an AM band carrier signal of 720 kHz versus an information signal of 20 kHz.) The frequency fC should be high enough for the resulting modulated signal to be transmitted by fibre optic cable 10.
Information signal source 34 may be a laser or other source of coherent light. The amplitude (preferable) or frequency of signal EI is dictated by a control system 40, which may be one of various suitable sending instrumentation systems or a computer. For example, control system 40 may comprise an electronic signal-generating apparatus, such as a telecommunications system or a computer, which generates an information signal (audio, video, facsimile, electronic data, etc.) in or convertible to the digital domain for convenience of transmission.
Lasers are preferred for use as the light sources in the present invention as being suitable for use with relatively low frequency electronic components An oscillator could drive, or gate, an LED to create a controlled frequency of pulsing that could be modulated (amplitude) by an information beam. However, such an approach would require very high frequency (and thus costly) generation components, which is a drawback the present invention avoids.
Signals EC and EI are transmitted through optic fibres 28 and 38 respectively to light mixer cavity 44. Light mixer cavity 44 comprises a block of optically-transmissive material for the light frequencies passing therethrough, such as air, other gases or gas mixtures, as well as solid materials known in the art. Light mixer cavity 44 contains a screen or mask 48 opaque to the incoming light signal frequencies from optic fibres 28 and 38. Screen 48 is transversely oriented to the associated ends of optic fibres 28 and 38 and includes laterally-spaced or offset pinholes or slits 50 and 52 (such as are commonly used to create an interference pattern from a single source). Optic fibre 28 is pointed at pinhole 50; optic fibre 38 is pointed at pinhole 52. The widths of pinholes 50 and 52 may be at some quantized level, which may be between a quarter of a wavelength and a wavelength of the signals EC and EI, respectively. The size of pinholes 50 and 52 is greatly exaggerated for purposes of illustration.
After having passed through pinholes 50 and 52, light signals EC and EI mix (i.e. overlap) as shown in FIG. 4. Under the definition of interference provided above, the overlapping of signals EC and EI is not strictly an interference as defined in the art because EC and EI do not start from the same point source or from two identical point sources. Therefore, the term “mixing” will be used herein to describe this phenomenon.
The modulation and demodulation functions employed in the invention are effected through the screen and pinhole system so that the two light signals transmitted through the pinholes create a non-linear function reflective of the information signal being transmitted.
Signals EC and EI in light mixer cavity 44 contain four components: (1) EC alone, (2) EI alone, (3) a modulated sum EMS of EC and EI, and (4) a modulated difference EMD between EC and EI.
A pickup optic fibre 56 or other suitable light receptor is positioned in the path of the overlapping waves of signals EC and EI. Pickup fibre 56 is positioned distant enough from screen 48 for the two light signals to overlap, and sized such that it picks up substantially only the modulated sum EMS component for transmission. The size of pinholes 50 and 52 may be varied in coordination with placement of pickup fibre 56 for optimum performance.
A pumped crystal amplifier 60 as known in the art receives that portion of signal EMS that is transmitted by pickup fibre 56. Pumped crystal amplifier 60 may be a passive crystal of off-the-shelf design that is commonly used in transatlantic cables for periodic signal amplification for long distance optic fibre. Additional pumped crystal amplifiers may be used as appropriate in the case of long distance optic fibre transmission. The intermediate portion of fibre optic transmission cable 10 (not shown), as well as the remote end of fibre optic transmission cable 10B, are of the same size as local end 10A, so as to transmit only the modulated sum frequency to a light demodulator system 24 at the receiving end of the transmission.
Referring to FIG. 5, a light demodulator system 24 includes receiver fibre optic transmission cable 10B (carrying EMS) and a laser 80. Laser 80 provides a laser light signal EOSC having a frequency fOSC to an optic fibre 84, where the frequency subscript OSC refers for convenience by analogy to an oscillating signal at the demodulation end of the system. As with laser 26, laser 80 may be an off-the-shelf, tunable diode laser. While it is preferred that fOSC may equal fC to reduce noise to the maximum extent, it is not required. If fOSC does not equal fC, more sophisticated processing capabilities may be required in the demodulator system processing electronics.
Signals EOSC and EMS are received by a light mixer cavity 90, which is similar to light mixer cavity 44. Signal EMS may be amplified, as with a pumped crystal amplifier 88, before entering light mixer cavity 90. Light mixer cavity 90 also includes a screen or mask 96 with pinholes 98 and 100, corresponding to the construction of mask 48. Optic fibre 84 is aimed at pinhole 98; optic fibre 10B at pinhole 100. Signals EOSC and EMS, passing through their respective pinholes and subsequently overlapping, produce four signal components therefrom: (1) EOSC (2) EMS, (3) the modulated sum of EOSC and EMS, and (4) the difference between EOSC and EMS which, if EOSC is equal to EC, will equal EI. The four components are received by a light sensitive detector plate 104 as known in the art, which receives all four signal components.
Light sensitive detector plate 104 produces an electronic domain signal VLS, which is received by amplifier 110. As with the modulation end of the communication system of the invention, the size of pinholes 98 and 100 and the placement of detector plate 104 may be varied for optimum performance. A detector 114 is sensitive only to the difference frequency signal component received from amplifier 110 and produces an electronic output signal, the amplitude of which varies, mimicking the original, relatively low-frequency, information signal from control system 40, allowing relatively low frequency electrical circuitry to amplify and reroute The signal locally to its intended destination for processing. Thus, the original information signal can readily be recovered from the signal received by the detector. The lower frequency electrical circuitry for handling the difference frequency is far less expensive than higher frequency circuitry required to handle a high frequency light signal such as a carrier wave light signal.
Exemplary applications for communication system 20 include local area networks, wide area networks and, local and long distance telecommunications.
Of course, in many, if not all, applications of the present invention, it is expected that a local light demodulator system would accompany the local light modulator system such that information could be transmitted in both directions. It is expected that, in most cases, a modulator/transmitter would also be a demodulator/receiver or a transceiver, with the functions of lasers 26 and 80 as illustrated and described herein performed by a single laser suitably linked by prism and optic fibres into both the modulation and demodulation portions of an integrated transceiver system.
Although only amplitude and frequency modulation are discussed above, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various other modulation techniques may be employed, such as phase modulation. This would, however, require one to send the carrier wave down the same optical fibre as the carrier wave impressed with the information signal, e.g., mixing would not be employed for the addition of a carrier wave signal. Phase detection could also be employed at the receiving end of the communication system.
It is expected that existing off-the-shelf parts are used in fabricating the apparatus of the invention wherever possible, there being no need for extensive use of custom-designed laser and optic transmission and amplification components.
As used in the claims, the terms “connect,” “connectable,” or “connected to” are not necessarily limited to a direct connection. For example, light sensitive detector plate 104 is connected to detector 114, although it may not be directly connected, due to the presence of an intervening amplifier.
Having thus described in detail preferred embodiments of the present invention, it is to be understood that the invention defined by the appended claims is not to be limited by particular details set forth in the above description as many apparent variations thereof are possible without departing from the spirit or scope thereof.
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|U.S. Classification||398/201, 398/207, 398/9, 398/212|
|Oct 22, 2002||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Mar 25, 2003||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Mar 23, 2005||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 18, 2009||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|May 24, 2013||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Oct 16, 2013||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Dec 3, 2013||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20131016